Solemnity of the Annunciation

A quick shout-out to my mother in heaven.  Thank you for your fiat.  Thank you for your “yes.”  A yes that you uttered every moment of your life on earth and that you will continue to utter for all eternity.  May I strive every day to say yes the way you do.  May I strive every day to ponder in my heart the way you do.  Mary, intercede for me to our Father in heaven, through your Son, and for all your children whom you love so much, that we may be worthy of the graces given to you.  Yes. Yes. Yes.

Brothers

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It is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell in unity, because when they do so their association creates the assembly of the Church.  The term “brothers” describes the bond of affection arising from their singleness of purpose.

— Saint Hilary of Poitiers, bishop

One

Yea, I’m jumping right in.

I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. —John 17:20-21 (RSV-2CE)

The Church is one.  This is the first “mark” of the Church defined by the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.  Before I try to explain what the Church being one means, it would probably be of use to define what one means.  According to the first definition in Merriam Webster one means “being a single unit or thing.”  In Latin, the word unam (a declension of the word unus) describes the Church or Ecclesiam as “only one” or “together as one.”  We can see that, deeply rooted in Scripture, littered through Paul’s Epistles, and recorded at the Church Council in 381 A.D. the Church is to be united, never divided, and at rest in the love of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

So why would Jesus want his Church to be one?  Why should it be united?  Why can’t each individual person just love him and that be enough?  Well because God is one.  The answer is simple, but I fear the explanation is not so.  We see from the very beginning of time that God has always been one, is one, and will forever be one.  God can never divide himself.  If God were to divide himself (which he couldn’t because it is completely out of his nature–and because God just is, he simply can’t), well actually I’m not even going to complete this sentence because he can’t divide himself.  So if God can never divide himself, why do we hold that he is comprised of Father, Son, and Spirit?  Because although he is three parts, those three parts are so “in tune” with each other, they may as well be one.  They never seek their own agenda and they never work alone.  SOOOOO with all this nonsense (nonsense being that I don’t fully understand it), I jump to a conclusion that I may or may not define in another post.  The Church is one.  Well great, Bradley, you’ve jumped so far no one can keep up.  Let’s put it this way.  If God is one.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is one.  (Ok, take a breath and think about that—great now lets keep going).  Jesus is man.  He is human and divine.  The Church is a body (read any epistle).  The Church is his Body.  The Church is one.  I really hope that makes sense.

For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. — St. Paul — Romans 12:4-5 (RSV-2CE)

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another…Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. — St. Paul — 1 Corinthians 12 (RSV-2CE)

So if his body is made of many parts but they are all one, I’ve just defined the Protestant church.

Protestants hold the authority of the local church to be pretty high and therefore never see eye to eye with each other.  Yes, they all love Jesus—and I truly believe that they do—but they don’t always agree with many different truths regarding faith, morals, liturgy, and interpretations of scripture.  So if we have defined that God will never disagree with himself (and that he is many parts but a whole), AND we have defined that the Church mimiks God’s nature of oneness, we can conclude that the Church’s parts should never disagree with each other on ANYTHING.

Do you think that Jesus would be chilling up in heaven with his Father and Spirit and come to the conclusion that he is going to agree to disagree on something with them?  NO!  God is God and is one.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all…Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.  — St. Paul — Ephesians 4 (RSV-2CE)

As part of the Third Translation of the Roman Missal, the Nicene Creed was changed a bit.  The most noticeable change is from “one in being with the Father” has been changed to “consubstantial with the Father.”  So to clarify my point even further, let me explain what consubstantial means.  When trying to define what the Church meant by the Eucharist is actually Jesus, Aristotle’s understanding of things and their properties seemed to work well.  Each “thing” in the world has ten properties, one substance and nine accidents.  When it comes to the Eucharist, the substance changes (or the is-ness) but all nine accidents stay the same.  So the word con-substantial simply means, “of the same substance.”  So Jesus, being his own person and having a completely different “personality” can be one in the same with the Father.  His substance is God, but his accidents are Jesus.  This may not be theologically correct, but it is, in my opinion, a good metaphor to help understand the concept.

So obviously I didn’t prove that the Catholic Church is the true Church that Christ instituted, but if you look at history, it is pretty obvious.  However, I do believe I proved that Christ’s instituted Church should be one, fully united, and in communion with God.  As always, we ask for Our Blessed Mother’s intercession for the unity of all Christians.  Her prayers are especially powerful in this area because just as the Church is our mother, she is a type of the Church and is the mother of all Christians.  Mary, Queen of Peace and Unity, ora pro nobis, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Fr. Michael Sullivan

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Big things happen on ordinary days. — Fr. Michael Sullivan, homily 2 January, 2012

HHS Mandate

A letter I just sent out to random friends and family in my email contact list:

Howdy Friends and Family,

As many of you know, the Department of Health and Human Services has produced and passed a mandate with President Obama’s help that restricts our religious freedom–a freedom which this country was founded on.  This mandate will force Catholic institutions and organizations to provide health insurance that covers artificial birth-control, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures.  In addition, Catholic hospitals will be required to provide all of these services against their conscience.  Regardless of how you stand on the issue of contraceptives and regardless of your beliefs/religion, this mandate is a downright horror.  It is a direct attack at our freedom to practice our beliefs.  The good news is that there are simple things you can do: sign the petition to reverse the mandatecontact your representative, and contact your senator.  The easiest and best thing by far to do, though, is to pray.  I hope that you will join me and educate yourself on these issues.
Resources:
Gig’em and God Bless,
Bradley Delaune

A New Direction

Howdy!

So I haven’t posted in quite a while and I apologize for that.  My excuses include business, other focuses, and my inability to find something to write about.  I believe I currently have four half-written posts that I just wasn’t happy with.  So today, not even thinking about my blog, I was praying the Rosary and the Blessed Mother told me to take my blog a different direction.  Recognizing her as the mother of the Church, she asked me to bring sons and daughters to her (the Church) through my blog with a series of posts about the Catholic faith.  She does not intend this to be an attack on non-Catholic Christians simply because they love her son so much, but rather she wants them to come to know his entire body (the Church) and not just his face.  This is the essence of the division between Catholics and all other Christians.  They see Christ’s face—his actions, love, teachings, words, etc—but miss out on his body, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic body of believers.

Mary only desires them to know her better, not for her own sake, but for the sake of her son.  It is simple logic.  If Mary completely gives herself to her son always, what harm is there in giving ourselves entirely to her?  She gives us to him, intercedes for us, pleads for us at the foot of his cross.  I’m thoroughly convinced and I truly believe that the unity of all Christians will be brought about by the prayers of Mary for she desires all of her children to live in love and communion through her son, Jesus Christ.

Most of my posts from here on out will be a continuous story line of faith and reason that outlines why the Catholic Church is the one, true Church of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Good to be back! God Bless!

Moving with the Times

The Catholic Church, most recently in the United States, has been known to be the group that doesn’t budge on doctrine, doesn’t allow change, and doesn’t “move with the times”–whatever that means.  I’ll be the first to admit that she doesn’t budge on doctrine.  Looking most recently at the stance she took on contraceptives, a bold one obviously, we see how she won’t sacrifice the truth for members or involvement.  But I’ll tear the other two claims apart together and hopefully with some convincing words.

The Catholic Church, being one of the oldest “organizations” on this planet, and one that has never changed her teachings, is probably one that is least respected in the modern western world.  With the mindset of “newness” among our materialistic thoughts, we never seek what is true and real.  We always look toward the future, desiring what is to come and not what we have.  With these longings it is no wonder the Catholic Church has no respect.

What drives us?  What causes us to do something that doesn’t bring immediate pleasure?  What brings us to choose suffering over happiness?  Desire.  The strongest driving force of our hearts, desire, comes directly from God.  Every desire we have is given to us by God and manifests itself in our feelings, thoughts, and actions.  So why is society so lost?  If our desires come from God, why does society seem to be driven by evil desires?  Well it isn’t.  We all long for heaven, but some try to fill this void of eternal life with things of this world.  We mistake our feelings for desires and don’t understand the difference.  Our desires will always draw us toward the eternal loving God, but our feelings tend to draw us towards material things.

If we truly want to fill these longings for heaven, we must not live in the future.  The Church does not live in the future–nor in the past.  The Church is not limited to this world and is God’s eternal kingdom here on earth.  Because of this eternal existence, the Church has nothing but the present.  (Same with us.  We cannot know anything about the future; we cannot control in it; we cannot live in it.)  So if the Church can only exist in the present and will always exist in the present, she is alive.  She defines change and growth, for nothing that is dead can change and all things living are changing constantly.  Anyone who says the Church doesn’t change or “move with the times” doesn’t understand the very being of the Church.

Roman Missal: Third EditionIf God’s Kingdom on earth is the Church, which she is, who are we to question how the Holy Spirit moves through her?  With the coming of the Revised Roman Missal in English-speaking countries, we see it met with a lot of hostility.  But we must be accepting of this change. We must desire to understand why the Church is changing now and what changes she is making.

As Catholics, I think it isn’t up to us to question change within the Church, but to welcome it and embrace it.  We must allow it to become part of us so that we can defend it against evil and use it as Jesus desires us to.

The New Evangelization and the Year of Faith

Recently Pope Benedict XVI announced that the year 2012 will be the Year of Faith.  This is such exciting news with the upcoming world Synod of Bishops.  This meeting of the bishops of the world starting on 11 October 2012, I believe, will be discussing the progress of the New Evangelization Bl. John Paul II left us with as well as where the Church will be headed as far as evangelization.  This is such a beautiful time to be a part of the Church (then again, is there a time it isn’t beautiful?)!

I was recently having a conversation with one of my good Protestant friends about evangelization.  We were discussing different ways of evangelizing, which are the bests, and how to go about sharing the Gospel with people.  This is one thing I think Catholics have become so good at lately, much due to Bl. JPII, but mostly because of you and I putting the Gospel into practice in our daily lives.  I think if we want to learn how to perfectly evangelize, why not look at the actions of the perfect evangelist, Jesus.

Many people understand evangelizing as standing in public, preaching to people who for the most part see you as a nuisance to their peaceful afternoon.  How often did Jesus preach? Ok, yea, you’re right…a lot.  But where did he preach and who did he preach to?  Often he preached on mountains, near lakes, etc–places people had to follow him to in order to listen.  I charge that this is not evangelization but rather preaching to and teaching people who had a desire to listen.  Evangelization is what Jesus did in public places to get people to follow him to the mountains and lakes.  He loved people–the innocent, poor, sick, dying, sinning, and neglected.  He loved them in ways that were scandalous and considered blasphemous in some circles.  Jesus went after people’s hearts first.  When he called the disciples, he did not entertain their brains with information to influence them, but rather showed them his love and wisdom.  I believe this is exactly what Jesus desires for his Church–for her to love as her spouse loves.  God is love and the best way to show others God is to show them love.  Go after their hearts for their hearts will guide their minds.

This by no means that we should not proclaim the written Word of God, the Bible, to others, but to proclaim it in a way that is fitting of the people who surround us and the places we go.  Jesus preached his word on mountains to people whose hearts had already been attracted to him.  He went after hearts and then their minds.

I urge you, regardless of religion, to love.  To love with everything, all of your being.  Not because you desire it, but because you love Christ and His love shines through your heart.  Love recklessly and without reproach.

I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love. –Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Once Christ has captured that person’s heart through your love, then enlighten their minds to the truths of God.  Pray for faith my friends, and never despair.

I recommend this Apostolic Letter Bl. JPII wrote entitled Novo Millennio Ineunte.  He has named our mother, Mary, the “Star of the New Evangelization,” a light to continually guide us to her beloved son!  Ora pro nobis, Mary, our tender mother!

Behold, Your Son

This past weekend I attended a retreat known as UTT/SFA Awakening #45.  It was at The Pines Catholic Camp in Big Sandy, TX.  There was a profound moment of encouragement that I felt on that retreat in regards to my relationship with Mary.  And as with any relationship, I saw how important trusting her was.  For the days leading up to the retreat, I felt as though my relationship with her was becoming less fruitful.  It worried me a bit and I was getting anxious about a lot of things.

My good friend, Ghillie (her camp name which she will not hesitate to tell you means ‘servant’), who is a very image of Mary walking on this earth, gave a great talk and made an important point.  The point she made was one that I knew, one that I was aware of due to the number of books on Mary I’ve read.  I just needed to be reminded.  Mary does not reach out for souls to be devoted to her for her own means, but rather to bring them to Christ.  It became real to me.  My relationship with Mary had finally reached the point where I was no longer looking at her, but rather she was directing my eyes towards Christ.

I found myself in Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament later that day, staring at the Eucharist for about an hour.  I was no longer seeing Jesus on the cross with Mary at his feet weeping, but rather, I felt Mary kneeling next to me pointing to the cross and keeping my eyes focused on her Divine Son.  She has captured me; I am her son, and she loves that.

Ever since then, I constantly feel Mary pushing and pulling me in the right directions, straight to the feet of her Son.  After many months of seeking this reality that I knew would come, it has finally arrived, and I cannot wait to see the grace and love this relationship will bring.

Behold, your son. (John 19:26)